Published: Nov. 11, 2010
Updated: Jan. 27, 2012
Avascular necrosis, also known as osteonecrosis, is the death of bone tissue due to a lack of blood supply. Bone necrosis occurs when there are tiny breaks in the bone that eventually lead to the bone's collapse.
Avascular necrosis occurs when blood flow to a bone is interrupted. Loss of blood flow can result from joint injury, narrowed or clogged blood vessels (from fat or sickle cell anemia), or from excessive pressure inside the bone (caused by conditions like Legg-Calve-Perthes disease or Gaucher's disease).
Avascular necrosis is characterized by persistent pain and stiffness in the affected joint, as well as a reduced range of motion.
When the hip bone becomes necrotic, pain radiates from the hip and into the groin, down the thigh, and into the knee.
In some cases, symptoms slowly develop over a period of several months. However, symptoms may appear suddenly after an injury. Some patients experience no symptoms at all.
Your doctor may order imaging tests like x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a bone scan to examine the necrotic bone and determine diagnosis.
The treatment you receive depends on the amount of bone loss you have already endured, and treatments focus on preventing further bone loss. Treatments can consist of a combination of medication, therapy, and surgical procedures.
If a surgical procedure is necessary, you and your doctor will work together to determine what method is best for you.
Duke Orthopaedics treats hip bone necrosis at locations throughout North Carolina, including Raleigh, Durham, Cary, and Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Watch an educational video about treatment of avascular necrosis of the hip bone.